Saturday, July 21, 2007

Proper 11, Year C (RCL) Sermon Notes

[Luke 10:38-42]

[Movement 1: 2 stories]

- The visit to Mary & Martha's home comes right after the episode with the lawyer. In last week's Gospel, we heard a lawyer ask Jesus what he must do to be saved. Jesus affirmed the Two Great Commandements-- Love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself.

- After that, Jesus told a parable expanding on the point of loving one's neighbor, a story about a Samaritan man who stops to help a man beaten on the side of the road.

- Today's events, the story of the visit with Mary and Martha, elaborates on loving God.

- Neither of these stories is complete without the other. Both of these stories have a point to make that illuminates one of the Great Commandments. The Good Samaritan teaches us more about loving our neighbor. Mary & Martha teaches us more about loving God.

[Movement 2: The two elements of discipleship]

- The things we learn from these stories...

- The Good Samaritan is praised for his action, and Jesus tells the lawyer "Go and *do* likewise." Love of neighbor is characterized not merely by affect (feeling), but by action.

- On the other hand, Jesus praises Mary for sitting and listening. Love of God will move us to action, yes, but first comes seeking God in prayer, and silence, in "sitting at God's feet."

- The life of a disciple requires both: silence and action; prayer and service; quiet seeking and listening, and active helping of neighbor.

- Love of God is characterized first by listening and seeking because our "need" is greater. We can do a lot for our neighbors. But what can we do for God that God cannot do already? The fact is, God is perfect, powerful, complete, and self-sufficient, where we are imperfect, weak, and in need of God's love before we are complete. God's love is not something we have to earn, but comes first as a gift-- our frank need of God is graciously answered with God's love. Mary doesn't have to "do" anything to "merit" Jesus' love; she just sits at his feet.

[Movement 3: Taking time for Love]

- Both stories, furthermore, illustrate how *hurry* can get in the way of loving God and loving neighbor.

- In the story of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite are too busy to stop and be inconvenienced to help the beaten man. At least part of their unwillingness probably stems from their hurry to reach their destination-- where they are going and what they are planning to do it "more important" than the unexpected complication of helping someone.

- Martha is busy and preoccupied with many tasks; these prevent her from paying actual attention to Jesus.


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